Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Interview - Simmone Howell

Simmone Howell kindly answered some questions pertaining to her newest release, Everything Beautiful this week. I spent many hours reading her blogs learning that she loves some of the same things I do - Veronica Mars, Gidget, Pretty in Pink, Elvis movies (when he was young and handsome) and an awesome used book collection (seriously check out the photos on her blog). It makes her not only a fabulous author but a pretty darned cool person too.

From reading your blog I got the impression that you've had every bad camp experience humanly possible; was this inspiration for Everything Beautiful?
Yes, there was always a camp story waiting to come out. I like stories that are set in isolated places. You are always a stranger when you take yourself out of context.

Having glimpsed at other reviews, I continue to be shocked at the negative spin some reviewers place on Riley's swearing, smoking and tumbling. Many seem to think that teens should only read sanitised versions of themselves. How much does censorship play a part in YA?

Maybe I’d be on more school lists if my characters were a little more vanilla, or had issues that tied in with curriculum. But I hate issues books, and it bothers me when I read YA and the author won’t let their characters swear. Words are supposed to be fun. And swearing can be fun and creative. I am thinking it might be time to reintroduce Elizabethan swears. Shakespeare was bawdy as. For the Elizabethan curse generator go here:

In one of your blog entries you apologised to Everything Beautiful for being Jan Brady, struck with second child syndrome. How did the experiences differ between Everything Beautiful and Notes from the Underground?

With NFTU I was doing rewrites with a three-month old in one arm and a laptop in the other. I often felt like I was losing control of the story. EB was a faster, more assured process. I had a deadline - also I wanted to get it finished by the time I moved house. I tend to plan books to coincide with big life changes.

"Match me; light my fire." This is the first thing Dylan says Riley, is he challenging her?

Yeah - and he’s quoting some old forties film as well.

I am partial to Clambake, what is your favourite Elvis movie?

I love Clambake! Possibly because of Bill Bixby. And Elvis is just so happy in that film. I also love Kid Galahad - it has one of my favourite lines: ‘Don’t push me Willy, this is one grease monkey who won’t slide so easy…’ And I also love Speedway because Nancy Sinatra is kinda skanky in it. And Blue Hawaii because it’s set in Hawaii. I spent my childhood watching Elvis movies on Saturday afternoons. They’re like comfort movies for me.

Riley is overweight, an unlikely trait in a YA Literature protagonist. Why do you think that this kind of central character is rare?

Cynical response. I think the idea is to appeal to the lowest common denominator. So your main character should be someone who everyone can see something of themselves in. And no one wants to be fat. It’s the same reason why they won’t put a fat person on the cover. No one wants to be seen reading a book about a fat person. There are some great YA books with fat girls though. I particularly enjoyed Fat, A Love Story by Barbra Wersba.

You were chosen as the Gold Inky recipient in 2007 for NFTU. What is it like to be recognised this way by the Australian YA community?

To have my first book recognised like that was just a dream come true. I still can’t quite believe it happened. I’m just getting to know the Australian YA community. Baby steps. Everyone is spread out, but it’s nice to see more OZYA writers online. >

I have to know - Moondoggie, Logan Echolls or Ducky?

The Big Kahuna. What’s not to love about a big guy who lives on the beach, drinks java and doesn’t want to work?


Thank you so much Simmone for taking the time to answer these questions. Stay tuned for Simmone's guest blog in the future.

I tried the Elizabethan Curse Generator and it's fabulous. Here's some doozies -
** Thou reeky shard-borne flax-wench!
** Thou goatish pottle-deep nut-hook!
** Thou rank fat-kidneyed death-token!

How did it know? That sounds just like me!


Anonymous said...

Great interview. Thanks a lot, both of you, for an excellent read!

I'll be linking to this as soon as I get my act together with an Everything Beautiful review.


Shooting Stars Mag said...

Great interview!! I used to watch a few Elvis films when I was dad was a huge fan, so I kind of became one, but I haven't seen one in forever. I need too though!


Adele said...

Luisa - Thanks, will be interested to see you views on the book.

Lauren - Thanks, it was all Simmone!

Clambake is my fave for some reason. The whole swapping identities thing mixed in with some amazing super-glue. The oil fields fainting scene is corny but hilarious too.

Just Listen said...

Fantastic interview! I loved Everything Beautiful. I love the part that you quoted in the interview from Dylan. It's pretty cool that it's from an old movie. :D